Facebook algorithm leads to 'Ville de Bitche' page removal

Occurred: March 2021

The official page of French town Ville de Bitche was taken down by Facebook without explanation.

 Ville de Bitche, a fortress town of 5,000+ people in the Moselle department of north-eastern France, saw its official Facebook page - titled Ville de Bitche - suddenly removed without explanation.

Per Politico, Bitche communications official Valérie Degouy told Radio Mélodie that she appealed the decision the same day the town's page was taken down, but had not heard back from Facebook. 'I tried to reach out to Facebook in every possible way, through different forms, but there's nothing [I could] do,' she said.

Facebook reinstated the page and apologised, telling CNN it was 'removed in error.' Commentators suggested the page was likely to have been flagged by Facebook's content moderation system, and the mistake was then compunded by human error.

In a press statement released after the incident, Mayor of Bitche Benoît Kieffer urged Facebook to be more transparent and fair in how it makes content moderation decisions.

Operator: Meta/Facebook; Ville de Bitche
Developer: Meta/Facebook

Country: France

Sector: Govt - municipal

Purpose: Moderate content

Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability

Transparency: Black box; Complaints/appeals

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2023